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Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Unlike brooms and mops which happily occupy a class by themselves, some things just don't fit into a category. So, like covered containers we find hunkered down in the corners of a fridge, photographic leftovers deserve a place at the dinner table too!

This is the niftiest drain stop!  It swivels!  The end of drain grief!  So rock, China.  I wonder if our apartment manager would notice if we took the whole sink.

Ye Olde Little Red Book.  English translations of Maoisms???  Have yet to see those.

Chops.  Sort of personal stamps.  Craftsmen carve your Chinese name into the end as you wait.  You buy a little tub of dense red ink to accompany your chop. Paco purchased a yin/yang Taoist symbol one.  I'm waiting to see it show up as a temporary tatoo on him someday when I least suspect it...

A ping pong store!!  One of dozens we've seen.  Not just a section--a whole store!!

Raisin cart!!!  Isn't it gorgeous???

 Look for these plastic crocheted edges purse thingies!!!  Coming to an enrichment meeting near you!!!!!!  Surely it is only a matter of time...

Can't help myself--but I am going to a self-awareness seminar, "You and Your Mop Obsession--Cleaning Out the Mind's Dark Corners of Repressed Tendencies".

"I say embrace that obsession, Mad!  China and I applaud you!  Too many foreigners completely miss our mops and brooms!  Photo ON!!"

Take a baby bottle. Fill it with fish food.  Cut the heck out of the nipple.  Fill a pond with hundreds of fish.  Charge a fee.  Find a way to hold that bottle.  Stand back and watch the Chinese completely absorb themselves in the activity.  Food Frenzy Taken to the Next Step!!!


And yet another sucker!

Oh to fill these cages with some gregarious parrots...

 Ukes for my fifth graders, who incidentally will ALWAYS be referred to as "my fifth graders" even though they hopefully continue to get promoted yearly to the next grade.  They know who they are...

Where we church!!!  Thanks to Chevron for providing such handsome digs for their expats.  We, of the humble "projects", appreciate seeing how the other half lives each Sunday.

The deck of our "church".  We all leave our shoes here before we go in.

A calligraphy shop!

Life-sized vases.  I'm not sure what one does with them.  I can imagine they grace something palatial.

This little ball of fluff really doesn't like me.  He barks and snarls and generally gets his knickers in a wad every time I pass, and this man tries to calm him down with, "That's not an alien, Toots.  Just an American.  Don't waste your breath." -- or something to that effect.  Little does Toots know that I am a deeply-rooted dog lover...If Toots would meet me halfway, I know I could at least bring a few biscuits in my pocket and pat his adorable head..

Whoa!  Just where do you think YOU'RE going, kid?

The end.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

"I Am NOT Your Mother!"

But then who needs a mother to pick up after you when you have an army of street angels?  The lack of trash cans in Chengdu is completely compensated for by the abundance of street cleaners.  We see them sweeping in the dark and hear their swiiiishh...swiiiishh..first thing in the morning.  Every neighborhood has several, and they do a MAGNIFICENT job.  I am devoting this blogpost to these unsung heroes and their even more under-lauded implements.  Hats off today to street angels, mops, and brooms.  Your day has come.

Basic to any clean-up operation is the common broom.  Chinese brooms are superior in every way.  In fact, my first memory of China back when I arrived as a mail-order girlfriend in 1997 in Beijing the day after Hong Kong came back was of little Chinese women boarding the plane the minute I exited with these hand-made brooms.Here are broom part replacements conveniently stashed away in trees just in case--heaven forbid--a broom mishap should occur.

Mops are a close second cousin to brooms and never far away from them.

 Every leaf removed.  Every day.  Every piece of trash removed.  Every day.  Swish...swish...swish--constant Chinese background music.  Much like the heart-like sounds we listened to in the womb.

 Even this giant decorative panda has a personal caregiver for those "difficult to reach" places!

Perhaps the street angels campaigned for this sign to be placed in a local city park.  I'm all for stopping those spitters.  They turn my stomach.  And who doesn't want toilet paper next to their toilet???  note:  I just read a book about Marshall Islanders who yep.

 A feather duster which I wanted to snatch, but I thought I might have a hard time explaining to the BYU folks (within whose graces I strive to remain) why I was in the clink for absconding with a cleaning implement.  True story--on the way to church one week we saw street angels DUSTING the guardrails on an overpass!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I fully intend to spend my golden years with this Chinese scrapbook on my lap alternately pining for and reminiscing about these mops in China...I hope my caregiver will occasionally dab at my chin and ask me some polite questions such as, "Were you always a mop connosseur? Did you ever get any help for that???"

The hand scythe and the ceramic bowl beside the aged bricks offset the hand-woven fence in an early Ching dynasty motiff.  (never you mind that bucket...)  I love throwing dynasties around.  I don't have a clue what I'm talking about.

Fortunately, I had my sponge painting supplies in my backpack so I could quickly blend this wall to coordinate with this mop.

 Is it just me, or is this an awesome photo???  OK.  Thought I'd just ask.  You don't need to get snippy.

This is a young apprentice broom--not aged to a golden brown or experienced quite yet.  His stories are yet to be told.

This mop was voted Miss Congeniality.  She cried a little and hugged the broom next to her.

It's amazing how many mops and brooms surface in the world when you are consciously looking for them!

I do NOT, repeat do NOT, stage any of my photographs.  I know some of you can picture me placing these brooms and carts just so so.  Nope.  Raw footage.

A loyal  generic workhorse city broom takes a rest--Gutter cleaned? Check.  Sidewalk debris free?  Check check.  At ease, soldier...

This is our neighborhood "dumpster".  We walk about 3 minutes and then just heave our trash onto the pile.  You can imagine what magnitude of rodents probably completely reside at the back and bottom of this.  That's why I stand back before I chuck. I also hold my breath, close my eyes, and pray,

Notice the broom sentinels.  I don't want to leave you hanging with this trash thing.  Several times a week (to the tune of "It's a Small World:, "Auld Lang Syne", and Schubert's "Trout Quintet"), the dump truck arrives, the street angels clean it all out, and the pile begins again...

Interviewer:  So, Mad.  When did you notice that  your readership plummeted?

Mad:  Well, I'm not too sure, but I think it was some time close to that day I blogged about mops and brooms.

Favorite books

  • Me 'n Steve
  • Thundering Sneakers
  • James Herriott's vet books
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Travels with Charley
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Peace Like a River
  • The Egg and I
  • Mary Poppins
  • Extremly Loud Incredibly Close
  • How Green Was my Valley